Date of visit: 4 September 2018
Visit number: 45
Prison type: Category C
The prisoners described a safe jail with good staff-prisoner relations. They rated the range of reps & mentors and the ‘excellent’ consultation, via an elected Prisoner Council, alongside regular meetings with Residential governors and relevant managers, a monthly SMT meeting, and regular forum meetings between reps and managers across a range of issues (e.g. race, faith, disability, etc). Education was ‘excellent’ and the library and gym ‘brilliant’. They praised the food, green spaces, cell fittings (including showers), quarterly family visits, in-cell phones and Kiosks on the wings.
The staff thought the prison safe, and praised a ‘very’ visible management, ‘excellent’ staff-prisoner relations (e.g. on first name terms), and a culture of mutual respect. They liked the full staff briefings each morning, a fortnightly ‘shut down’ for a full staff meeting and training, and the staff counselling service. The staff mess was ‘great’ and ‘well used’, and they also enjoyed good staff access to the gym. Regarding prisoners, they valued strong engagement and consultation, phones and Kiosks, a good physical environment, the gym and sports facilities, as well as their ‘excellent’ food (‘better than elsewhere’). Education & training, alongside support to aid self-employment, was ‘excellent’.
The Director and Deputy described a ‘calm’ and ‘safe’ prison, where a culture of decency and respect ‘permeates everything’, including relations at all levels among staff and with prisoners. They said the SMT was ‘visible’ and had an ‘open door’ policy. They highlighted consultation (forums, etc), extending to both staff and prisoners. As elsewhere, prisoner phones and Kiosks were highly valued. They rated Ashfield’s cleanliness and noted cell carpeting, for both the decency agenda and in helping reduce noise. They said there was full prisoner employment, with ‘very good’ education & training. The staff mess also won praise.